The lethal flick of a shark's tail might be just the thing to reawaken your natural thrill at nature's dangerous majesty and also provide a day out that is just that little bite, so to speak, out of the ordinary. In California, shark enthusiasts can opt for a gentle snorkel with relatively harmless sharks in crystal clear shallow waters or go to the other extreme and scuba dive without even a cage between soft, tasty humans and potentially hungry great white sharks.
Seasons and Locations
Each specific shark tour outfit in California has its own special season, and the seasons can run from as early as June to as late as November. The months of August and September tend to be times when many tour operators are open. San Diego, San Francisco and San Pedro are all locations where swim-with-sharks tours operate.
Types of Sharks
Species of shark that may be on the schedule for shark tours range from the relatively harmless leopard shark all the way up to the infamous great white. Leopard sharks are coastal creatures and are the likeliest shark that shallow water tours will spot. Great whites and tiger sharks, by contrast, live further out in the ocean.
The most uncomplicated swim-with-sharks tours in California are snorkel tours. The La Jolla coast is a spot that guided tours cover, where tourists can swim with the shallow water leopard sharks. Snorkel tours may be suitable for children who are aged ten years and over, as well as adults, and do not require any diving qualifications apart from an ability to swim. Other tours, which aim to find bigger sharks, involve a boat trip out to deep waters like the Gulf of the Farrallones Marine Sanctuary. Some of these boat tours go further and run out into Mexican waters, to such shark-rich spots as the Isla Guadalupe. Some tours use a cage to protect the swimmers inside the water. However, the swimmer may not require a scuba diving qualification if the tour involves snorkeling at the surface inside a floating cage. On tours that lower cages further beneath the surface, participants may have to have scuba qualifications before the tour can allow them into the water. Cageless diving with sharks is also available with some operators for those who feel they are not tasty enough for a shark.
Often, tours that sell a swimming-with-sharks experience require customers to phone for a quotation and do not advertise fixed prices on a business website. As of 2011, though, a snorkel tour may cost only $30 whereas longer tours that involve cage diving and boat trips can cost several thousand dollars. Some operators offer discounted rates for groups and even customize a tour to suit the preferences of customers.
- Birch Aquarium: Snorkeling Adventures (June-September)
- San Diego Bike and Kayak Tours: Kayak Snorkel Tour - La Jolla
- Incredible Adventures: Great White Shark Adventures in San Francisco
- Team Shark Inc: TSI Program Overview
- Shark Diver: Isla Guadalupe White Shark Cage Diving
- Psalty Shark Diving; California Shark Diving; Gary Jackson
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images